Blu-ray Review: Noragami – The Complete Series
21/09/2015 Leave a comment
We tangle with the gods and find that they are quite friendly; but what did we think of this latest Blu-ray release, Norgami – The Complete Series, from Manga Entertainment? Find out in our review!
Minor god Yato is down on his luck. Fed up with his slacker lifestyle, his partner abruptly quits. He has no money, no worshippers, and no shrine to call home. But just when things are starting to seem hopeless, a bus accident forces him to cross paths with Hiyori Iki, a sweet and perky high school girl. After the accident, Hiyori’s soul has a bad habit of slipping out of her body, and after enlisting Yato’s help to get her back to normal, she begins to fall into the world of spirits and gods.
But Hiyori’s not the only one who’s keeping tabs on Yato. A god from Yato’s past is back, and he’s not interested in a friendly reunion.
Having gone into Noragami completely blind I knew nothing of what to expect from the show; and after sitting through the twelve episodes of this first season I was pleasantly surprised and entertained by what I saw. In short Noragami provides something a little bit different – and the right amount of entertainment – without overcomplicating the viewer on his/her knowledge of the gods and for once I’m thankful for this toned down single minded approach to a god-slaying fist fight; even if it does take a while to get there and avoid the initial problem at hand.
Noragami is a story that sees Yato, a god who dreams of becoming famous and having his own shrine filled with maidens, getting rescued by a human girl known as Hyori; however during this rescue Hiyori ends up becoming injured in a ‘mysterious’ way that sees her spirit constantly leaving her body. The pretence here is that Hiyori recruits Yato to solve her mysterious problem but the actual storyline is something a little bit different and – in my eyes at least – several episodes away.
You see Yato has been without a Regalia, a weapon used to vanish evil spirits, for quite some time now and without one only minimal mundane tasks can be accomplished; but that’s not necessarily the problem at hand. Evil spirits, known as Phantoms, attack the streets and latch onto humans feeling depressed and cause them to commit suicide and without a regalia Yato cannot vanquish them; but when a regalia, going by the name of Yukine, is found his own ‘evil desires’ take hold and effect Yato in the worst possible way. In short these selection of episodes see Yato now with a weapon, which is infact a once dead human spirit that can be transformed in a sword, but due to this regalia doing evil deeds and causing mischief around the city it inflicts pain onto Yato and in time immobilizes him.
This whole fiasco lasts several episodes and acts as a potential build-up of what’s to come; a fight between two gods that sees the fate of a single girl, Hiyroi, decided by the victor. It’s an interesting way to lead-up to an ending, with a previous ‘destructive’ regalia setting up doubts on a current regalia before the final fight, but it somehow worked out – even if getting here was a bit of a blur and mysterious. Put simply; too much attention is focused on the regalia’s feelings rather than the problems of mysterious phantoms and potential attacks from other gods but it somehow manages to find some balance to provide a good and entertaining show that’s worth watching to the end.
When it comes to bonus features then you can pretty much expect the ‘traditional’ selection of content you would expect from a FUNimation produced title; in this case English Cast Commentary, Textless Songs and trailers.
The first discs has two forms of audio commentary; both of which see the voice case and ADR director share their experiences with the show and its characters. From a FUNimation commentary point of view it’s not that bad, as we actually hear how it was like to work on the show, but from a general commentary point of view it was still pretty bleak.
In regards to the second discs then there is an included video commentary for Episode 4 which sees the voice cast once again discussing their roles and what it was like to work on the show. Video commentary is pretty much the same as audio commentary except this time we actually get to see them in the booth, as well as the anime episode.
The final selection of content is textless opening and closing songs and a selection of trailers for other FUNimation produced shows – as these discs are exact replica of the US release after all. As a result of this trailers included are The Devil is Part-Timer, Is this a Zombie of the Dead, Ping Pong: The Animation, Soul Eater Not, BlazBlue, Nobunagun, The Future Diary and 009 Re:Cyborg. Each of the trailers are listed so you can easily pick and choose which to watch.
Media: BD50 x1, BD25 x1
Region: A & B
Running Time: 3:38:25 (Disc 1), 1:12:40 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English), Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps
Noragami leads you to believe it’s a story which sees a god aiding a girl and protecting her in the meantime; in actuality however it’s a continuous series of mini-arcs that don’t lead to a concluding ending but leave it open for sequel (which is due in Japan in October 2015). This is not a bad thing; it just makes it potentially harder to explain what’s happening and why. For starters; the introduction sees Hiyori and Yato become friends – but they don’t nessacrily aid each other in their troubles and when the regalia known as Yukine appears it spells trouble and emotional stress for Yato.
It’s not until the final four or five episodes where things start to wrap themselves up; and even then it all feels over too quickly. Yukine’s feelings and responsibilities are important – as it seems him getting to grips of what he has become – but I feel it was too long for what it potentially needed to be; although it did setup the events of the final episode quite nicely – whereby one of Yato’s old regalia’s, and one used for destructive purposes, causes all sorts of trouble for Yato, Yukine and Hiyroi. Basically by the end of the first episode we expect what should happen but in actuality the end result was something completely unexpected.
Fights with phantoms (evil spirits), fights with gods and comical arguments between god and human is what’s on offer here and despite a few slow-moving episodes it is all good fun that should be watched by all. In regards to this Blu-ray release by Manga Entertainment UK then there are some surprises in-store; for starters this Blu-ray discs is ‘exactly’ the same as its US counter-part as it seems FUNimation are authoring the discs on behalf of MangaUK for this particular release. As a result all of the US content – such as US exclusive trailers – are included so if you’ve yet to get a look at Soul Eater NOT, Ping Pong the Animation or BlazBlue then you are in for a real treat. In terms of quality then everything is as expected with constant high quality across both audio and visual flairs with the subtitles being tailored for the Japanese track. From what I can tell there are no problems to report and everything works as you would want it to.
All-in-all Norgami is a pleasant surprised; I expected nothing from it and got an entertaining package that looks and sounds fantastic just as much as the story itself; my only gripe however is with some of the series progression – as some elements which seemed important turned out not to be; but I guess that’s how it goes sometimes.
Noragami – The Complete Series is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.